“Reading brings us unknown friends” —Honoré de Balzac
By Nancy Carol Inguanzo, Community Outreach & Volunteer Manager
Last week volunteers shared some of their favorite childhood friends with PUSD elementary students. I was thrilled to get to be a reader, too. It was a lovely opportunity to go into our local public elementary schools and meet new friends – friends big, small, and imaginary.
Some of my best childhood friends I found in books. When I was a kid, I knew where to find the wild things when I wanted to “let the wild rumpus start!” I could play in the snow with Peter in the middle of summer in The Snowy Day. And the only blueberries I liked were the one’s Sal shared with me in Blueberries for Sal. Years later, I got to introduce these best friends to my two boys.
Reading a well-told story makes you a better than you were before – lessons are learned, memories are sparked, and gratitude is found. The friends you find there are lifelong. You just need to pick them up… and turn the page.
I shared all the sounds of Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You? with an eager class at Don Benito Elementary, tried Green Eggs and Ham with Sam with a keen class of first graders at Madison Elementary, and took a trip All The Way to Havana in the old family automobile with a young Cuban boy and some adventurous special education students at Roosevelt Elementary. I’m not sure who enjoyed it all more, the students or me. It was pure delight.
Volunteer readers from all over Pasadena participated – retired teachers, officers from the Pasadena Police Department, firefighters from our local fire stations, Rotary Club members, realtors from the Pasadena-Foothills Realtors Association, PUSD school board members, and representatives from the Tournament of Roses. What a way to start one’s day. PTAs offered us coffee and goodies. Student greeters led us to classrooms. Staff talked with us about what their students were learning. The volunteers I spoke with agreed… this was the most fun we’d had in a long time.
When volunteering is done well, you get more than you give. It’s its own great story. And it, too, makes you a better person. On behalf of all of the Read Across Pasadena volunteers, I want to thank all of the PUSD schools who invited us to meet their students and share our love of reading.
When the weekend came, it inspired me to take the time to make a new book friend of my own. And I didn’t have to leave my own sofa. Diane Keaton and I are now besties.